Analysis of segmental renal gene expression by laser capture microdissection.
Background: The study of normal renal physiology has been greatly aided by microdissection techniques that have delineated the exceptional functional and cellular heterogeneity both along the nephron and between different nephron populations. These techniques are not widely used to study renal injury as microdissection is difficult because of tissue necrosis or fibrosis. We developed a procedure to detect specific gene expression in specific locations of the kidney in histologic sections.
Methods: The anatomic specificity of laser capture microdissection (LCM) was employed with the sensitivity of reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
Results: LCM/RT-PCR detected mRNA for podoplanin in 2% of a single glomerulus, rat basic amino acid transporter in 6% of a single cross-section of proximal straight tubule, and renin in eight proximal convoluted tubule cross-sections. LCM/RT-PCR could isolate pure populations of proximal convoluted tubules, proximal straight tubules, and thick ascending limbs from renal histologic sections, although pure collecting ducts could not be isolated. LCM/RT-PCR localized ischemia-reperfusion-induced induction of KC/interleukin-8 primarily to the medullary thick ascending limb, and detected transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) mRNA in glomeruli of a patient with membranous glomerulonephropathy.
Conclusions: When used with an appropriate laser spot size, LCM/RT-PCR can measure gene expression in glomeruli or specific parts of the nephron and can study alterations in steady-state mRNA levels in animal models of renal disease. The applications, limitations, and refinements of this approach are discussed.